- Special Pages
PESHAWAR: The Hakimullah Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has reportedly conveyed to the central leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) it would not make any attempt to disrupt their scheduled peace march to Kotkai town in South Waziristan and was even ready to provide it security if need be.
However, senior officials in Peshawar said that the government was still reluctant to allow the PTI rally in the volatile South Waziristan tribal region.
“The situation is not satisfactory for public rallies in South Waziristan and it is yet to be decided whether or not the PTI would hold its rally in Kotkai,” a senior government official said.
The Taliban sources privy to a recent meeting of senior TTP commanders presided over by Hakimullah Mahsud said they were happy with Imran Khan’s role for highlighting the sufferings of the tribal people affected by militancy and particularly his commitment of support to victims of the US drone attacks.
The TTP commanders felt that since Imran Khan and his supporters were coming to their area to highlight the hardships and miseries of the tribe’s people in general and the Mahsuds in particular, therefore, it was their responsibility to welcome and protect them.
“What Imran Khan and his party are doing today should have been done by the Pakhtun politicians and religious leaders hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas,” a senior TTP leader argued.
He said the Taliban commanders also informed the PTI leadership about the reported threat of suicide attacks against them in case they held the march to North Waziristan instead of South Waziristan.
Imran Khan had earlier planned to visit North Waziristan to hold the protest rally against drone attacks there. Apparently, he had to cancel the much-anticipated trip due to security reasons.
North Waziristan has been the main target of CIA-operated spy planes in its missile strikes in recent years.
“We took a group of people into custody as they had hurled threats at the PTI leaders on behalf of the TTP. They are under interrogation and will be punished for terrorising the people,” the Taliban commander said. He said the Mahsuds considered Imran Khan their nephew and would welcome him and his guests on the soil of his maternal uncles.
However, it remains to be seen if the security agencies would allow the PTI chairman and his supporters to travel to the distant Kotkai area in South Waziristan and hold the protest rally.
Tribesmen from the Mahsud, Burki, Bhittani and Gandapur tribes have assured the PTI leaders of full cooperation in providing security to the participants of the peace march while passing through their villages and towns right from Dera Ismail Khan to Tank and onward to Jandola in Frontier Region Tank to Kotkai in South Waziristan.
Kotkai is the hometown of TTP head Hakimullah Mahsud and his cousin Qari Hussain, better known as mentor of suicide bombers.
If Imran Khan?s plan materialises, he would get the credit for being the first Pakistani politician to organise a public rally in South Waziristan after the Political Parties Act was extended to Fata in August 2011.